ConservativeHome wishes all readers a very Happy 2013. May it be peaceful and prosperous. Normal service will resume tomorrow morning but don't expect newslinks at 9am. They won't appear until mid-morning but we have a powerful piece from Lord Lexden on Ted Heath and Britain's forty year old membership of the EU that you won't want to miss! We'll also be naming the Conservative Minister of 2012.
5pm ToryDiary: The rise of UKIP was the event of the year
3.30pm ToryDiary: The benefits cap is your policy of the year
11.30am Tim Montgomerie on Majority Conservatism: There is nothing inevitable about Ed Miliband becoming Prime Minister
Peter Cuthbertson on Comment: The new Police Commissioners must get police back on the beat
Iain Duncan Smith: Labour created a system of tax credits for the lower-paid that is “wide open to abuse”
"Mr Duncan Smith describes a “story of dependency, wasted taxpayers’ money and fraud”. He says the system, which largely benefits those in work, is out of control and unfair for “hard-working taxpayers”. Today’s article continues: “In the years between 2003 and 2010, Labour spent a staggering £171 billion on tax credits, contributing to a 60 per cent rise in the welfare bill. “Far too much of that money was wasted, with fraud and error under Labour costing over £10 billion.”" – Telegraph
IDS in The Telegraph: "The question every taxpayer should ask Ed Miliband is this: what is fair about making taxpayers who, in a time of growth, paid for Labour’s extravagant welfare system, now pay for further rises to benefits? The answer Mr Miliband, is nothing."
"The number of benefit fiddlers being jailed has HALVED despite a big Government crackdown"
"Official figures show 430 cheats were caged by judges or deported in the past 12 months — compared with 957 last year and 893 in 2010. Fewer than one in four handout fraud cases now leads to a court conviction and only one in 50 ends in a prison term. The failings come despite a massive push to root out benefits cheats, who cost taxpayers more than £1billion a year." – The Sun
- The Sun Says: "Benefit fraud shouldn’t be seen as a soft crime. Those who callously cheat the system should feel the full force of justice."
Universal credit plan 'is a disaster in the making', says Minister just months ahead of launch – Daily Mail
Tim Montgomerie identifies an evaluation of the Universal Credit as one of eight top tasks for David Cameron in 2013: "The coalition’s reputation for competence may not survive if vulnerable people don’t receive money that they depend upon in a timely way. The Treasury is close to panic about the workability of Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship benefits reform while the Department of Work and Pensions insists that it will be all right on the night. Mr Cameron cannot waste any time in establishing the robustness of this reform."
By 2015 Osborne will have borrowed £212bn MORE than he predicted in 2010
"George Osborne is on course to miss Alistair Darling's deficit reduction plan, which was set down in law by the last government, and panned by the Tories at the time for failing to tackle the problem with sufficient rigour." – Guardian
John Redwood is also unimpressed: "So far the Coalition has cut the deficit, which means they have cut the rate at which the debts increase, by around one quarter. Recent figures imply some backsliding even on this modest improvement. If all goes according to plan this Parliament they will add around £600 billion to our state debt, or almost £10,000 extra borrowing for every man woman and child in the UK. The increase in the debt this Parliament will be more than the total official state debt ten years ago."
- The Independent notes that GPs are being asked to prescribe cheaper drugs to save money for the NHS.
Councils pleading poverty have put £16billion in the bank (up 15.5%) despite railing against 'Dickensian' cuts – Daily Mail
"“It is unacceptable that some councils are stashing away billions, turning town halls into Fort Knox, whilst at the same time threatening to cut frontline services,” Mr Pickles told The Daily Telegraph. “Given the steady rise in reserves over the past two years, it is irresponsible that certain sections of local government have chosen to needlessly scare the public with unfounded and baseless accusations."
The PM's projection of himself as calm, kindly and above all pragmatic is strained by the record of a government that increasingly appears shrill, ungenerous and doctrinaire – Guardian leader
> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Cameron uses his new year message to note progress on borrowing, education and jobs
More stringent measures will be needed if the Coalition is to cut immigration to tens of thousands by 2015 – Express
Cameron may wish to arm Syria's rebels but his party and the country are much less keen – Independent leader
Francis Maude warns that the Conservative Party will face "electoral oblivion" if it doesn't continue to modernise – Telegraph
The Bright Blue Group launches Modernisation 2.0 to revive attempts to broaden the Tory message – Guardian
"It was never within the Prime Minister's power to overcome all these obstacles, but one thing is obvious. His "modernising" policies are part of the problem, not the solution. Concentrating on the green agenda or same-sex marriage or reform of the voting system does plenty to alienate some natural Tories (the ones flocking to UKIP). But I can't see that it increases the party's appeal to ethnic minority voters or gays or environmentalists or anyone else since, being people, they are chiefly interested in what all other people are interested in at the moment: how on earth we'll ever get out of this mess." – Andrew McKie in The Herald
- Are the Conservatives getting through to 'blue collar' voters? – Chris Mason for the BBC
Daily Mail: Latest crime figures prove you can cut budgets AND cut crime
"For months, the Police Federation has been giving dire warnings that budget cuts and reforms to working practices would mean a ‘Christmas for criminals’. Yet instead of the predicted crimewave, new figures show the opposite – recorded crime has fallen by around 10 per cent. The fall is a huge tribute to the skill and dedication of police officers but also explodes the myth that maintaining effectiveness is simply a matter of spending ever more taxpayers’ money." – Daily Mail leader
- The public is losing faith in the police because of a “dangerous cocktail” of controversies, a senior MP, Keith Vaz, declared yesterday – The Sun
Election debates could be held much earlier in electoral cycle – Telegraph
A group of senior politicians in Brussels is to propose “second-class” EU status for Britain in a dramatic shift in thinking by the strongest supporters of a united Europe
"They are to suggest that the UK should become an “associate member” under plans which would result in it staying in the EU’s single market but being stripped of its commissioner in Brussels, MEPs, and its right of veto in the European Council. The Times has discovered that the Union of European Federalists will publish its own version of the next EU treaty in the spring, as debate hots up in Brussels over what to do about “the British problem”." – Times (£)
Labour's Jon Cruddas believes UKIP will enjoy a breakthrough in 2013 and become established as the fourth party of British politics – The Sun
- In his Monday column Trevor Kavanagh predicts a flood of Tory voters to UKIP if Cameron does not offer an in-out referendum – The Sun
- "Private polling by Lord Ashcroft, Tory peer, suggests Europe is by no means the biggest factor driving support for Mr Farage’s party. Only 7 per cent considering Ukip said Europe was their top issue; many are just generally disillusioned with the way the country has changed." – FT (£)
The Labour Party has pocketed more than £20million from trade unions since Ed Miliband became leader – Express
The failure of successive governments to protect patients from cosmetics industry capable is baffling and inexcusable – Denis Campbell for The Guardian
Senate negotiators yet to reach ‘fiscal cliff’ deal as clock winds down – Washington Post
Republicans have no political incentive to make deal with Obama: Of the 234 Republicans elected to the House on Nov. 6, just 15 (!) sit in congressional districts that Obama also won that day – The Fix
Foreign aid providers have achieved depressingly little for Haiti since its 2009 earthquake – Ian Birrell in The Guardian
Most failed marriages are the result of unsuitable matches. Pre-marriage guidance could help to reduce the number of divorces – Letter to The Times (£)
"The spirit of William Rees-Mogg lived within The Times long after he ceased to be its Editor in 1981… For more than 30 years until his death on Saturday he represented essential qualities for our trade: certainty and confidence, scholarship and showmanship, elegance and endurance, virtues that, as they weakened elsewhere, made his own possession of them more potent." – Peter Stothard in The Times (£)
> Yesterday's MPsETC: A great, gentle and Christian man – Jacob Rees-Mogg MP pays tribute to his late father
And finally… In this new year, raise your glass to a Buy British Wine campaign – Boris Johnson in The Telegraph
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